Chad: refugees bear witness to the horrors of Darfur: “Our daily life was filled with gunfire, rape, and death”

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The intensity of conflict escalates in Sudan, particularly in the capital city of Khartoum, where the paramilitary forces led by General Hemetti launched an attack on the headquarters of the regular army last Sunday. This conflict, now entering its sixth month, has resulted in thousands of civilian casualties and displaced over 5 million people. In Darfur, violence is an everyday occurrence, with more than 420,000 individuals having sought refuge in neighboring Chad, and hundreds more arriving each day.

Merely 5 kilometers from the border, new refugees erect makeshift shelters using cloth and wood to seek respite from the scorching sun. Among them is Samia Ismael, who fled under the cover of darkness last Friday. Hailing from Murnei, a town in western Darfur under the control of the Rapid Support Forces and affiliated Arab militias, she shares a chilling account of their daily existence. “Our daily life was filled with gunfire, fires, rape, and death,” she recounts. “We had nothing to eat. Militiamen graze their cattle on our farms. Every Friday, they extort a tax from us in exchange for so-called ‘protection.’ They frequently abduct our daughters, taking them away with them. Just a few days ago, the Rapid Support Forces and militias launched an attack on us. They killed the men and boys. My husband and his sister perished, leaving me to care for their orphaned daughter.”

“We are caught in the crossfire.”

Refugees are now arriving from increasingly distant locations. Mukhtar Zakaria fled the city of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, where the regular army killed dozens of civilians last week following aerial bombardments. “The paramilitaries infiltrate residential neighborhoods, and then government forces attack them from their bases or the air,” he explains. “The bombings claim innocent lives. This war is taking a deeply troubling turn. It’s getting worse by the day, and ultimately, it is we, the ordinary citizens, who pay the price. We are caught in the crossfire, surrounded.”

The plight of these refugees is a stark reminder of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region, where the specter of violence, displacement, and loss casts a long shadow over the lives of countless individuals. As the conflict in Sudan rages on, the international community faces a pressing moral imperative to address the suffering and instability that continue to plague the people of Darfur and its neighboring nations.


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